I first tried beets when I was eighteen years old during the first week of my freshman year of college. I walked into the Yale dining hall, full of its delicious treasures, and spotted the deep purple vegetable among the salad offerings. I've been in love with beets ever since. Particularly common in Africa, Europe and Asia, beets are one of nature's healthiest vegetables. They detoxify the body, help with blood pressure, act as antioxidants and have great anti-inflammatory qualities.
Originally people consumed the beet's tasty leaves before they discovered that the root was equally as appealing. Considering how common beets are across the continent, I find it rather surprising I encountered them so late in life. In Ghana, I've been happily consuming my fair share of beets. I grow bored with traditional salad recipes quickly, so I decided to make this fun, fanciful beet salad with avocado, cucumber, mint, goat cheese, sunflower seeds, couscous and quail eggs. I typically prefer to pair beets with quinoa because the texture holds up a bit if there's some excess beet juice, but as import prices are not in my favor... couscous it is!
Fanciful Beet Salad
Makes 2 large salads or 4 small salads.
½ cup cooked couscous
1 cup sunflower seeds
3 medium raw beets, peeled and cubed
2 medium avocados, cubed
2 medium cucumbers, sliced thickly and cut into quarters
Handful of mint
½ cup goat cheese
5 quail eggs
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To cook couscous: I love this simple technique via The Kitchn.
- To prepare the quail eggs: Fill a small saucepan with salted water and bring to the boil. Add the quail's eggs using a spoon and boil them for 4 minutes for perfectly hardboiled eggs. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool down under cold running water or in a bowl filled with ice water. Peel carefully to avoid puncturing the eggs.
- To prepare the salad: Cut all pieces into fairly even cubes. Combine with the goat cheese and sunflower seeds.
- To prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients.
- Finally, drizzle dressing over the mixture (you won't use all of it) and gently toss to combine.
- Season again with salt and pepper as needed.
Want even more color? Add some red bell peppers and/or some grated carrots.